By Nakkolackal V. L. Eapen
The ‘Last Supper’ is historic in its dual significance. On the one hand, it is the Lord’s last Passover meal with His disciples, commemorating Israel’s PHYSICAL deliverance from Egyptian bondage; and on the other, it is the inaugural Holy Communion, foreshadowing mankind’s SPIRITUAL deliverance assured through the impending sacrifice of Himself as the “Paschal Lamb”. (1 Cor. 5:7)
The chosen twelve are at the table together with the Lord. Mary, the Blessed Mother, is conspicuous by her ABSENCE which is very significant. Permission having been sought of the Lord to sift Simon like wheat, “That ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world,” (Rev. 12:9), is also PRESENT to watch spitefully, the disciples’ receiving solemnly their first Holy Communion from the Master’s hands. Even today, wherever believers congregate to pray or worship, Satan is PRESENT like a prowling “Lion, seeking some one to devour.” (1 Pet. 5:8) The unwary fall an easy prey to Satan’s craftiness, and warring factions soon emerge, robbing believing communities of their spiritual vitality. Satan, then, is the sole victor; and the Lord, the Lone Loser.
To Satan’s glee, Judas Iscariot is in hopeless BONDAGE to the thirty pieces of silver. His greed for money being STRONGER THAN his love for the Lord, he is in IDOLATRY; and the protection and blessings of Holy Communion are LOST to him. Satan, therefore, targets him first. John’s gospel corroborates it. “Then after the morsel, Satan entered into him.” (Jn. 13:27) All at once Judas hurries away into the darkness of night, bent on betraying his Master with a friendly, but deceitful kiss.
Nine recipients of the first Holy Communion, including Thomas, flee into hiding because of their being in BONDAGE to their selfishness. Their interest in their personal safety is GREATER THAN their concern for the Lord’s well-being and safety. They too are, thus, in IDOLATRY. The blessings of Holy Communion are consequently a LOST advantage to ALL the nine. Thomas is also in BONDAGE to his unbelief. He has heard Jesus speak to Martha affirmatively, “I am the Resurrection and the Life.” Still, he does not accept the truth of Lord’s resurrection, and he insists on walking by ‘sight and touch’ alone, and NOT by ‘faith’.
Peter’s BONDAGE to his inflated ego and his overbearing self-assurance proves to be his undoing. Within hours after the first Holy Communion, he denies THRICE, the Fountain of Living Water, being sifted like wheat by Satan.
Of the twelve recipients of the first Holy Communion, ONLY Apostle John becomes BLESSED and STRENGTHENED by it. Why? Because, he is NOT in BONDAGE. His love for the Lord is as immaculate as that of a loyal and dedicated bride for her one and only bridegroom. In other words, the Lord is the first and foremost love of his life. Consequently, the regenerative power of Holy Communion TRANSFORMS him, and he resolutely STAYS THE COURSE unto its very end. Fearlessly confronting the hostile religious leaders and the ruthless Roman soldiers, John stands tall at the foot of the cross, like a bride by the side of her fallen bridegroom, her ONLY hero. May Apostle John be the believers’ role model ETERNALLY for countless generations to come!!!
Holy Communion does NOT seem to impact most of the present-day believers, and the caliber of their Christian life for two reasons.
It follows, as a corollary of (2) above, that love for Christ the Lord will have to reign SUPREME in the hearts of believers if they are to EXPERIENCE, in their day-to-day lives, Holy Communion’s TRANSFORMING POWER. But in point of fact, love for one’s DENOMINATION often tends to take precedence over one’s love for the LORD with catastrophic consequences like ceaseless conflict and demoralizing litigation, on flimsy grounds. Our ‘divided’ church is its classic example. Prophetic, indeed, is it of Apostle Paul to have foreseen that prospect, and pronounced in COMPELLING CONTRAST, a ‘blessing’ in Eph. 6:24, and a ‘curse’ in 1 Cor. 16:22. The blessing is: “Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love undying.” And the curse is: “If any one has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed.” Loving the Lord steadfastly, and supremely OVER everything ELSE, is the essential pre-requisite for pleasing God the Father in our thoughts, words, and deeds, unfailingly.
Habitually turning to the Lord, our One and Only Bridegroom, and to Him ALONE, in unceasing adoration, unflinching loyalty, and utter submission, is the only SURE way to being transformed and empowered by Holy Communion to “Have life, and have it abundantly.” (Jn. 10:10)